At a time when businesses have been severely crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale of Khadi products, across the country, has been witnessing growth since 2014.
Interestingly, since October 2016, the single-day sale at Khadi India's flagship outlet in Connaught Place(CP), New Delhi, has crossed the ₹1 crore-mark on 11 different occasions, according to an official release.
The record performance found a special mention in the latest episode of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's radio program "Mann Ki Baat" on 25th July. He appealed to the citizens to buy Khadi products and play an important role in the 'Bharat Jodo Andolan'.
The Prime Minister, while reiterating the significance of such products, said that handloom has been a major source of income for people residing in rural and tribal areas across the country. The industry has been supporting lakhs of women, weavers, and indigenous craftsmen.
"Khadi's single-day sales exceeded ₹1 crore four times in October - November 2020, despite the economic distress and the fear surrounding COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in 2018, the single-day sales at Khadi's CP outlet crossed the ₹1 crore mark four times. On 2nd October 2019, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) registered the highest single-day sale of ₹1.27 crore at the CP outlet, which continues to be a record till date", the press release stated.
It further stated that for the first time on 22nd October, 2016, the single-day sale at Khadi India outlet in CP had reached ₹1.16 crore. Earlier, the highest single-day sale of Khadi stood at ₹66.81 lakh (recorded on 4th October 2014).
The Prime Minister had been promoting the idea of going 'Vocal For Local' and propagated the use of Khadi products since the inception of his radio program. In the first episode, he had appealed to the countrymen to buy at least one Khadi product as it would help poor artisans to light lamps on Diwali.
What Is KVIC- Khadi And Village Industries Commission?
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the statutory body overseeing the development of khadi and village industries across the country. It was formed by the government in April 1957 under the 'Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956'.
An apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the commission deals with aspects ranging from planning to facilitating the establishment and development of khadi industries in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development.
The common characteristic found in both - Khadi and Village Industries is that they are labour intensive in nature. In the wake of industrialisation, and the mechanisation of almost all processes, these industries are suited like no other to a labour surplus country like India.
Highest-Ever Turnover Recorded
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) also recorded its highest-ever annual turnover for 2020-21. It registered a gross annual turnover of more than ₹95,000 crore, as compared to ₹88,887 crore turnover in 2019-20, thus, reporting an increase of over 7 per cent, according to the press release.
The commission's record performance in 2020-21 assumes special significance as production activities remained suspended for more than three months during the nationwide lockdown announced on 25th March last year.
Despite the production units and sales outlets remaining closed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, KVIC swiftly rose to the Prime Minister's clarion calls for "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" and "Vocal for Local".
Compared to the year 2015-16, the overall production in this sector, in 2020-21, registered a substantial growth of 101 per cent while the gross sales during this period increased by 128.66 per cent unlike other departments which suffered huge losses due to the pandemic.
What Led To The Growth?
The growth has been largely attributed to the initiatives like the launch of Khadi e-portal, Khadi masks, Khadi footwear, Khadi Prakritik Paint, Khadi hand sanitisers, etc.
Setting up of new PMEGP (Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme) units, new SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) clusters, and the government's push to adopt swadeshi products have reportedly played a crucial role.
Compared to the production of ₹65,393.40 crore in 2019-20, the production in the village industry sector increased to ₹70,329.67 crore in 2020-21.
Similarly, in FY 2020-21, the sales of village industry products stood at ₹92,214.03 crore as compared to ₹84,675.29 crore in 2019-20.
However, the spinning and weaving activities across the country were severely affected during the COVID times. As a result, the production and sales in these areas declined slightly.
The overall production in the Khadi sector in 2020-21 was recorded at ₹1904.49 crore as compared to ₹2292.44 crore in 2019-20, while the overall Khadi sales stood at ₹3527.71 crore as compared to ₹4211.26 crore in the previous year.
During this period, KVIC's mainly focussed on creating sustainable employment for artisans and unemployed youth. Faced with economic distress, many youths took up self-employment and manufacturing activities under PMEGP, which increased the production in the village industry sector.